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Tutoring: A partnership where lessons take flight

Tutoring can be a rewarding venture for teachers. This guide will help you make the move

Tutoring can be a rewarding venture for teachers. This guide will help you make the move

Original magazine headline: A partnership where lessons take flight

You are a mid-career teacher looking for ways to freshen up your approach. Or perhaps your finances are stretched and you need to top up your income. Maybe you are looking to spend more time with your family. There are many reasons why qualified teachers choose to become private tutors.

The traditional view of tutoring is of a sepia-tinted world full of private crammers preparing privileged children for entry to public school or Oxbridge. But you have only to look at a tuition website such as The Tutor Pages (www.thetutorpages.com) to find a range of teaching skills reflecting the modern world of education, with tutors offering everything from literacy and numeracy lessons to special needs support.

With almost one in four state school pupils in England reported to have received private tuition at some point during their schooling and demand rising steadily despite the credit crunch, there has never been a better time to become a private tutor. So how do you get started?

The first step is to establish your credibility. Currently, tutoring in the UK is unregulated, so it's up to you to build a picture of yourself as a competent and reliable professional. If you have impressive qualifications in your subject, make sure you emphasise them in your publicity.

An alternative to joining a tuition agency - which pockets upwards of pound;5 for every hour you work - is to register with a tuition website, which for a small annual fee will enable you to present yourself to pupils and parents and to receive enquiries free of charge directly by email.

One of the most rewarding things about working as a private tutor is that it offers an unrivalled opportunity to get to know pupils as individuals.

One primary school teacher who takes after-school private lessons says: "Without distractions and with the ability to have a constant dialogue with a teacher, children can fly when it comes to their understanding."

Becoming a private tutor can seem daunting to teachers who are used to working in the collegial atmosphere of a school, but there is no reason to feel isolated. There are plenty of opportunities to think as a team, involving pupils and parents in your teaching practice and creating a sense of partnership. You can also keep up to date with your specialism by joining a mailing list or chatroom or by becoming a member of a professional association.

Think about tutoring as an opportunity to create independence for yourself. Whether you see it as a full-time business, as part of a working portfolio, or as a gentle way to ease into retirement, it can provide teachers with a lasting sense of achievement and a great deal of pleasure

Henry Fagg is author of `Tutoring: the Complete Guide', available to download for free at www.thetutorpages.com

Promoting yourself

  • Join a tuition agency or register with a tuition website.
  • Write an article about your subject for a specialist website - it shows you know your stuff.
  • Draw up a written learning agreement to demonstrate your professionalism.
  • Be prepared to offer references, a CV and testimonials to parents.
  • Celebrate success - show off your students' results in exams.

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